50 years and counting, the Star Trek franchise is still boldly exploring new frontiers.
Saturday evening CineConcerts, known for its live to projection film concert experiences, presents a feature length montage of Star Trek footage set to a live symphonic score at the Fox Theatre. “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage” feature dramatically arranged film clips and musical cues from the franchise’s five live action TV series and many of its feature films.
Conductor and CineConcerts president Justin Freer says the show is a microcosm of one of the most groundbreaking pop culture legacies of our time.
“Gene Roddenberry (‘Star Trek’s’ creator) was so brilliant at taking some of the most important issues of his day and commenting on them in sometimes a subtle way, and sometimes a very overt way,” says Freer. “I hope we’re able to represent the emotion and the psychology of ‘Star Trek,’ and fall in love again with what we fell in love with for so many decades.”
CineConcerts has produced many live-to-projection film concerts, including “The Godfather” and “Gladiator,” but Freer says “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage” is his company’s first original production.
Two years ago, he and his team set out to tell the story of the entire “Star Trek” franchise in a single feature length experience. He decided the best way to do this was to compile film clips and musical scores that best communicated the big themes “Star Trek” is best known for.
“If you can imagine the Enterprise as a theme, or close bonds in space, or space exploration, these overarching themes that were so strong throughout all 50 years, we trace those elements with a montage set to music,” Freer says. “Brotherhood in cultures, what it is to be alone, what it is to have close bonds and friendship: There’s so many things that humans can identify with in ‘Star Trek,’ and I hope that we identify with those same things in this show.”
This is also something of a personal project for Freer. Before he became one of the West Coast’s most sought-after conductors and composers, he was mentored by Jerry Goldsmith, whose many iconic film scores include “Chinatown” and “The Omen,” in addition to “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and several other “Star Trek” film and TV scores.
Freer says Goldsmith has been a huge inspiration to him throughout his career, especially when it came to composing a tribute to “Star Trek.”
“What I think we all take from him is what music is supposed to do for film, and that is to speak to the very thing you cannot see, to help us understand the emotional content of what the characters are thinking and feeling,” he says.
Beyond living up to his mentor’s standards, Freer was faced with the challenge of pleasing the franchise’s notoriously dedicated fan base.
“The moment you do something they’re not used to, they know it immediately,” he says. “It was always a monumental responsibility, and I still feel that when I’m conducting. Are we doing it right? It’s a difficult question to answer, but during the shows the response has been incredible.”
It’s not uncommon for audience members to come dressed as the show’s characters, or shout out episode numbers and other trivia during performances. Freer says the show elicits a wide range of emotional responses from hardcore fans and newbies alike.
“From the podium, I can hear them laughing, and in some cases I can hear in the first couple of rows people with their Kleenex box crying,” he says. “And we have a minimum of three standing ovations a night, which is really quite rare.”
Steven Sonoras is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.
The Ultimate Voyage’
7:30 p.m. Sat.
2211 Woodward, Detroit